Sunday, June 13, 2010

Day One

Dreams are not always the fluffy soft kind. There are also the gnawing, aching kind that make you feel a little itchy. A little scared. The kind that make your stomach drop out.

Competing in Burro Days is one of those kinds of dreams. We've been attending Burro Days for the last ten years. The women who run are gnarly. They are determined. They are badass. They have long braids and ripped thighs.

It always made sense that someday I'd be able to compete. But the summers tick by...

So this is the summer. No job. No commitment. Open road. Open trail. Muscles waiting to be tested.

Two weeks ago I said goodbye to good friends and a tempting PhD program in order to make the pilgrimage from Boston, MA to Denver, CO in a Penske truck. Fiance. Colorado sunshine. Dreams to be chased.

So I emailed Ralph Herzog, Burro Days guru. And he invited me to come "run with his animals," as he calls it.

Today I began my Burro Days journey. June 13. Fresh snow up in Fairplay. Nick laughed when we woke up. I laced up my running shoes, convinced to prove my "hard core" commitment.

 We arrived up on Ralph's ranch and met Ruby and Cochise. Cochise is 30 years old and cannot run more than 2 miles at a time (the big white burro). There is also a mini horse that is part of the pack. I was in charge of Ruby. 

Two miles later, the burros had taught me a little something.

Number one: burros like to LEAD - not be LED. Ruby refused to even move if I moved past her nose. She preferred me back by her haunches. She calls the shots - not the humans.

Number two: burros have two speeds: quick trot and slow as !&@^%. Ruby was either pulling me the whole time or walking in slooow motion.

Ralph laughed and encouraged me to let her pull me along when she was goin'. He also encouraged me to give her a good whack on the butt with the lead rope when she was lollygagging. This was tough because she was so darn cute. But I did manage a convincing "HAH" accompanied with a butt-thwack a few times.

After we put the burros away, Ralph asked if I'd like to keep running a bit. I didn't know it would be a four-mile run (on top of the two we had done). At ten thousand feet, my lungs were dying. Phew. More training is definitely a must if I'm going to survive this.

SO - next step: Ralph's going to hook me up with some Idaho Springs donkeys. And I am going to get my ass in gear over the next few weeks! (pun intended)

Bonus: we saw a MOOSE on our run! He skidded to a stop in the mud, took one look at our motley crew, and stomped back into the forest. AND Nick took some great nature shots while I was running...

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